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‘No new communications’ on US soldier in North Korea, Biden State Dept. says

A shot of the DMZ when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Minister of Defence Song Young-moo were there, October 2017. (DoD photo by US Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)
July 25, 2023

President Joe Biden’s State Department said there has not been any “new communications” with North Korea over American soldier Travis King, who was recently detained by the communist nation after he crossed the border during a tour in South Korea.

“I saw the reports about contact between the U.N. Command and North Korea. It is my understanding that there have been no new communications since last week — communications that happened in the early days,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Monday.

“I think the reports may have resulted from a misinterpretation of the U.N. Command’s original statement, but I will leave it to them to discuss the details of that,” Miller added. “But I’m not aware of any new communications other than those that happened in the very early hours or early days after he went across the border.”

The United Nations Command announced last week that a “U.S. National on a JSA orientation tour crossed, without authorization, the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).”

READ MORE: US soldier scheduled for disciplinary action crosses border into North Korea

An eyewitness who claimed to be a part of the same tour group as King told CBS News that the tour group had just finished touring a building near the Military Demarcation Line when “this man gives out a loud ‘ha ha ha,’ and just runs in between some buildings.”

“I thought it was a bad joke at first, but when he didn’t come back, I realized it wasn’t a joke, and then everybody reacted and things got crazy,” the eyewitness added.

According to the witness, military personnel quickly reacted to the situation despite the initial confusion surrounding the incident. After King allegedly ran across the Military Demarcation Line, the tour group was reportedly transported back to the Freedom House in order to provide statements before departing on the group’s tour bus.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.